George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James McHenry, 10 September 1798

From James McHenry


My dear GeneralTrenton [N.J.] 10th Sepr 1798

If any change should take place in settling the relative rank of the majr Generals you hope and expect to be informed of it.

The inclosed letters will shew you the progress and state of the

Question. You will return them, and I am sure will duly respect this confidence.1 It will be proper you should deliberate upon the part which will be fittest for you to take, and advise me of it as soon as possible.2 Yours always and devotedly

James McHenry


1McHenry noted on the back of the draft of his letter that he was enclosing copies of his letters to John Adams of 22 Aug., 6 Sept., to Henry Knox of 22 Aug., (two), to Alexander Hamilton, 10 Sept., and the letters to him from Knox, 5 Aug., from John Adams, 14, 22 Aug., and from Hamilton, 8 September. When returning the enclosed letters to McHenry on 16 Sept., however, GW refers specifically to Adams’s letter of 29 Aug. in which Adams asserts that Knox shall be first and Hamilton last in the ranking of the three major generals for the new army under GW. See also GW to Alexander Hamilton, 24 September. McHenry quotes Adams’s letter of 29 Aug. extensively in his letter to GW of 19 September.

2McHenry’s letter of 10 Sept. to Hamilton contained the information that the members of Adams’s cabinet were preparing to draw up jointly a memorial to be sent to the president in Quincy urging the retention of the original ranking of the major generals as wished for by GW. On 12 Sept. McHenry wrote GW: “The gentlemen have not yet prepared their dispatch for the President, on the subject of my last letter.” (DLC:GW). Pickering wrote GW on 13 Sept. about the proposed joint address to the president, and five days later he reported that the cabinet had decided instead to have Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott alone sign the letter to Adams.

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